Written by Patricia Davis
I began to think about the New Year on December 29 and brainstormed how I could have a positive impact on someone’s life through my profession this year and beyond. Hand sewing beautiful organic and natural clothes is what I do everyday. Whether it’s a wedding gown, a suit or a baby’s romper, my passion is creating beautiful one of a kind pure and natural garments.
Over the years cheap, mass-produced clothing has dominated the market and driven our credit card sales. We all want a bargain. But have we stopped to think about what that bargain, in the end, really costs us from an individual prospective — as well as society?
Have you ever asked yourself what you are really purchasing when you pay a price that’s so cheap? In order to buy something cheap, something must suffer along the process such as quality, health, labor or the environment.
What I can share with you through my expertise may impact your decision to buy clothes in the future. First, let’s throw quality out the window. (Few consumers seem to demand it anymore.) Sales price overrides our need to purchase good, well-constructed products. So let’s move on.
Our health is a big consideration. Our skin is the largest organ and it absorbs everything that touches it. Typical mass-produced clothes are filled with everything toxic: toxic fabric, toxic dye, toxic finishes and toxic smell. These toxins are absorbed into our body through our skin every day.
Even after washing the clothing several times, toxins remain in massive quantities. Toxic dyes have been studied and linked to an array of serious medical issues such as severe skin rashes (that won’t heal), respiratory disease, neurological disorder and even cancer.
Formaldehyde in clothing is regulated by protection agencies in many countries, but the United States is not one of them. This is of great concern because formaldehyde is a dangerous toxin that attacks the throat, lungs and respiratory tract.
Remember that any garment claiming to be “anti-static,” “anti-wrinkle,” “anti-odor” or “anti-anything” means you are paying for the convenience with your health and well-being. The cost of a doctor’s visit or hospital stay will far outweigh the convenience of owning such garments.
The fabrics of choice for most manufacturers are man-made polyester, acrylic and nylon, which are created using hundreds of chemicals. Polyester is made from only
four ingredients: air, water, coal and petroleum. In other words we’re wearing, day in and day out, a shovel of coal doused in crude oil against our skin. How can such a lethal chemical
cocktail not affect your body in a negative way and endanger your well-being?
The next concern is labor. Sweatshops are still making our cheap clothes. (We just don’t talk about them anymore.) Factory and textile workers suffer from an array of serious health conditions until they die. America itself has become a cheap source of labor — not in production, but in retail sales. Retailers all across America are working salary employees to the point of exhaustion and total burnout. Employment in the retail industry is a constant revolving door of costly employee turnover. Many managers are working well over 80–100 hours per week and taking home the same paycheck they would for 40 hours. People in retail struggle to spend any time with family or have a life outside of work. (Is that $5 shirt worth a family being disconnected or babies raising themselves?)
Statistics show that over 68% of salary retail employees are single mothers raising their children. They choose retail salary jobs because the salary appears to be good money, but when a $50,000 annual salary is divided by an 80 to 100 hour work week, reality sets in. These employees are often managed through acute fear and intimidation tactics, causing even more stress and health-related problems. That is a serious consideration — and one that has not been addressed in studies or really brought to public light. When we support such retailers we contribute directly to these statistics.
My last concern is the environment. Our planet’s health is affected at every stage of manufacturing a piece of clothing. From production, to usage, to the clothing’s eventual discard, our environment suffers. We produce excessive amounts because it is so cheap. The low prices drive consumption and the low quality keeps the discards piling up.
During production, thousands of toxins are released into our air and water supply. Subsequently, as we wear our clothes more toxins are released in sewer water from washing (the non-binding chemicals such as finishes are washed away), dry cleaning and the daily wearing of formaldehyde releases the toxin until you discard the garment.
When we dispose of all those cheap, man made fibers they flood our landfills with chemicals that won’t break down in our lifetime or beyond. If they are burned our atmosphere becomes contaminated, too!
Organic and natural fiber fabric is God’s gift to us: organic cotton, organic hemp, organic linen, peace/raw silk, organic wool and blends. It breathes, feels good on our skin, resists bacteria, some offer UV protection and all are biodegradable (it harmlessly returns to Mother Earth — and gives life as it biodegrades).
I encourage you to improve your quality of life in an unexpected way — by being selective of the clothes you choose to buy and wear. If you choose pure, clean, natural and healthy clothes you will impact your health, global labor conditions, the environment and the demand for quality goods through your efforts.
Slow down, take the time to read garment labels, know what you’re buying, wash everything before you wear it and don’t buy anything labeled “anti” anything. If that garment was not created from life (plants) you can choose not to wear it.
Invest the time needed to live a better life through the clothes you wear and reap the value of better health, balanced and fair labor practices by retailers and a much cleaner earth for us all. You can do this. As a consumer you have the power!
Owner, Silver Needle & Thread / Tag Custom Bridal